Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess whether dry needling (DN) added to photobiomodulation (PBM) has effects on the treatment of active myofascial trigger points in the upper trapezius.
Methods: This study was a randomized clinical trial, with 43 participants divided into 3 groups: DN and PBM (DNP), DN, and DN outside of the trigger point (DNout). Each group received 1 session of DN followed by PBM therapy with the machine turned on or off. Pain, disability, pain pressure threshold, and muscle activity were assessed before the intervention and afterward at intervals of 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 week, and 1 month.
Results: Pain decreased after intervention in the DNP and DNout groups, with mean differences, respectively, of 1.33 cm (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.019-2.647) and 2.78 cm (95% CI, 1.170-2.973). Scores for the disability questionnaire decreased in all groups after intervention (F = 36.53, P < .0001) after the intervention, with mean differences of 3.8 points in the DNP group (95% CI, 1.082-5.518), 3.57 in the DN group (95% CI, 0.994-6.149), and 5.43 in the DNout group (95% CI, 3.101-7.756). There were no significant differences between or within groups in pain pressure threshold (F = 2.14, P = .139), with mean differences after 30 minutes of 0.139 kgf for the DNP group (95% CI, -0.343 to 0.622), 0.273 for the DN group (95% CI, -0.661 to 1.209), and -0.07 for the DNout group (95% CI, -0.465 to 0.324). Muscle activation for the DN group increased 8.49% after the intervention, where for the DNP group it decreased 11.5%, with a significant difference between groups.
Conclusion: DN added to PBM presented similar results compared to DNout and DN. In this sample, the effects of the application of DN outside of the trigger point had better effects on pain and disability scores than DN applied directly on the trigger point.
Author keywords: Complementary Therapies; Phototherapy; Myofascial Pain Syndromes; Pain
Author affiliations: Center of Sciences, Technologies and Health, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Araranguá, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
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